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The Selling of the Presidency: Politics in the Age of Television July 25, 2012

Posted by Daniel Downs in commentary, elections, political campaigns.
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On Target with John Whitehead® is a video blog that provides viewers with Whitehead’s insightful, relevant and provocative take on popular culture and constitutional issues. Whitehead is considered by many to be a legal, political and cultural watchdog—sounding the call for integrity, accountability and an adherence to the democratic principles on which this country was founded. He is president of The Rutherford Institute.

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What Voting Meant to James Wilson, And Why Israel’s Voting System is not Conducive to the Election of Wise and Virtuous Public Officials February 10, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in American history, elections, freedom, Israel, moral virtue, politics, voting.
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By Prof. Paul Eidelberg

James Wilson of Pennsylvania was one of six men who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. His contribution to the deliberations of the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787 was second only to that of James Madison. He was also the principal draftsman of Pennsylvania’s own constitution of 1790.

Mr. Wilson was one of the original Justices of the Supreme Court as well as one of the first professors of law. He was widely regarded as the profoundest legal scholar of his generation.

More than other framers of the American Constitution, Wilson was a fervent advocate of democracy. His conception of democracy, however, or at least of what it means to vote in elections, differs significantly from that of the present age.

Let me first collate a few passages from his law lectures and speeches:

In a free country, every citizen forms a part of the sovereign power: he possesses a vote, or takes a still more active part in the business of the commonwealth. The right and duty of giving that vote, the right and duty of taking that share, are necessarily attended with the duty of making that business the object of his study and inquiry….

At every election, a number of important appointments must be made. To do this is, indeed, the business of a day. But it ought to be the business of much more than a day to be prepared for doing it well. When a citizen elects to office … he performs an act of the first political consequence. He should be employed, on every convenient occasion, in making researches after the proper persons for filling the different departments of power; in discussing, with his neighbours and fellow citizens, the qualities that should be possessed by those who fill the several offices; and in acquiring information, with the spirit of manly candour, concerning the manners, and history, and characters of those who are likely to be candidates for the publick choice. A habit of conversing and reflecting on these subjects, and of governing his actions by the result of his deliberations, will form, in the mind of the citizen, a uniform, a strong, and a lively sensibility to the interests of his country. The same cause will produce a warm and enlightened attachment [or representational bond] to those [representatives], who are best fitted and best disposed to support and advance those interests.

Wilson goes on to suggest the habit of citizens to candidly acquire information concerning the manners, history, and characters of candidates for public office, tends to raise the level of those elected and to exert a salutary influence on their official conduct if only because they want to be worthy of the honor accorded them by their fellow citizens (to say nothing of their desire to be re-elected).

We see that for Wilson, voting—electing someone to public office, a person whose conduct can affect the welfare of the commonwealth—is a moral act requiring rational inquiry and candid judgment. The right to vote in an election involves the duty of citizens to inquire into the character and experience of the candidates and to make a candid judgment as to which candidate is best qualified to serve the interests of the community.

Nowadays, liberals are ever talking about “rights” and hardly ever about “duties.” Wilson, however, was a classical liberal. He taught that man’s rights ultimately derive from God, hence, that rights are correlative with duties. Accordingly, Wilson said that citizens should understand “that their duties rise in strict proportion to their rights,” and that the most solemn duty of a citizen, before exercising his right to vote for a particular candidate, is to devote “all the time, which he can prudently spare” to learn about that candidate’s character.

This is impossible in Israel, where 30 and more parties compete in an election and citizens are compelled to vote for a party slate of 20 to 60 and even more candidates, almost all of whom are unknown to the voter!
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Professor Eidelberg is the Founder and President of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy, a Jerusalem-based think tank for improving Israel’s system of governance. He can be reached through the FCD website: www.foundation1.org

Three Roads to a Palestinian State February 9, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in elections, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, politics.
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Three Roads to a Palestinian State:

1) The Short Road: Vote Livni (Kadima)

2) The Long Road: Vote Netanyahu (Likud)

3) The Circuitous Road: Vote Lieberman (Israel Beiteinu)

Against all three roads: Vote National Union

Source: Foundation for Constitutional Democracy

Economic Recession : Connecting Candidates, Trends, Values and Voting November 3, 2008

Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, economy, elections, free market, God, John McCain, life, marriage, moral law, news, politics, voting.
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It’s a Bad Idea to Elect Candidates to Improve the Economy

Encouraging congregants to vote on Tuesday November 4, my pastor shared some very profound insights about how to view the issues. He said that we would be electing people who will be representing our views and our futures. Those we elect will make decision that will not only affect our own lives but our community and out nation He then followed with an insight applicable to all elections for all time.

The economy is constantly changing. The boom and bust cycles will continue no matter who is in office. We should not vote for candidates based on a troubled economy because it will eventually improve anyway.

Adding to his insight, I want to point out that our economy and its free markets are not some mysterious force operating outside the realm of human behavior. The economy is human behavior. The markets are the results of nothing other than human decisions. Intentionally or unintentionally, the problems and benefits of our economy are the results of human behaviors. The boom and bust cycles of our current economy are the results of policy decisions, trade and consumption practices, errors and neglect, as well as greed and irrational fears. Barak Obama and Congressional Democrats blame Bush for their own bad policy decisions and neglect of the mortgage markets that Congress created. And, Bush’s spending didn’t happen without their approval either.

The Obama Connection?

Cliff Kincaid, Editor of the Accuracy in Media Report, wrote an article on who is behind the economic collapse. To appreciate his argument, you must read the entire article. Here, I will try to summarize some of his main evidence to illustrate my point. Kincaid research points to Democrats as the primary actors suspected of generating the current economic crisis of New Deal proportions. His research ties US Treasury Secretary Paulson, who worked for a Democratic firm, Goldman Sachs to leading Democratic Party fundraisers, and to Barak Obama. Those suspected of creating the current economic crisis for political reasons would not be complete without George Soros, who has a reputation for creating national economic crises. Other writers have produced lists of former employees of Goldman Sachs who have filled leading positions in both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Many others are being investigated, according to Kincaid.

Recession and Election Cycle Trends

If I remember correctly, the past four or five presidents were elected during an economic correction sometimes called recession. According to financial expert John Mauldin, President George W. Bush inherited an economy already in recession from Democrat Bill Clinton. Oddly enough, Americans elected Clinton as President in part to solve the recession that occurred during George HW Bush’s term in office. We voted Ronald Reagan into office because of his plans to solve the deep recession inherited from Jimmy Carter. Many Republicans voted for Democrat and Baptist Jimmy Carter because of they believed his faith was real and because of his plan to solve the recession-sized energy crisis. Like my parents, many Republicans were sorely disappointed.

Learning From the Past?

It must be questioned whether the most educated people in the world are capable of learning from the past. It is claimed that many Republicans again favor a Democrat for president. That is certainly their right. Many religious leaders have championed the cause of the Democratic Party its candidates. Again, that is their right. Yet, the Democratic Party is more socialistic, more pro-abortion, more opposed to traditional marriage than ever. Their presidential candidate does have religious credentials. However, the religious aura surrounding Barak Obama is a cloud of illusion. I think it is more of a smoke screen for the sole purpose of winning an election. Whether McCain is sincerely Christian is debatable as well. However, his VP choice at least gives us hope for a strong pro-life and pro-family influence in the Whitehouse.

I return to my original point borrowed from my pastor. Whether economic crises are the result of evil intentions or simply bad decisions, they are the product of human behaviors. They have occurred throughout our nation’s history. As now, they have always been corrected by appropriate behavior and policy decision. This corrective process is already in motion. Therefore, whoever we elect as the next president is mostly irrelevant.

Voting Decisions and Issues of Unchanging Importance

My pastor continued his political exhortation with another and even more important insight. Instead of making our voting decisions based on a continuously changing economy, we would find better representation in government if we made our decisions based on unchanging criteria. Going back to the biblical book of Genesis, he reminded us of source of our moral values, the sanctity of human life, and of human dignity. These are the most important criterion. As history teaches, the decline of morality in societies always results in that society’s end. Therefore, in this pivotal election, we will choose whether morality and the sanctity of life will be upheld and strengthened or whether morality will continue to decline.

Having done my own research, it is clear to me which candidate will defend the life of the unborn, the sanctity of traditional marriage, and the general morality our form of democracy has always required. Like the traditions of their respective parties, Democrat Barak Obama favors abortion and opposes defining marriage as one man and one woman because he supports the politics of sexual immorality. John McCain claims to be pro-life and favors overturning Roe v Wade because it was an erroneous ruling. He supports traditional marriage but believes it’s outside the power of federal government to decide on issues of marriage.

Voting Means Judgment—Of Candidate and Maybe of God

As Americans used to believe regarding disasters whether affecting national, state, and local communities, I too believe America is already experiencing God’s justice for the long official support for every form of immorality, for the brutal slaughter of millions of unborn children, for legitimizing unnatural and harmful behaviors of gays, and for many other crimes against God’s moral laws. If this assessment is correct, then this election is the most important and most pivotal of all elections in American history comparable to the election of Abraham Lincoln.

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(Note: The title of John Mauldin’s financial commentary referenced above presents the insightful and witty perspective of it gifted author; the title is “Electing the Janitor-In-Chief”. Mauldin’s work is profitable reading and can be accessed at his website www.fronlinethoughts.com)

Revenge Politics and Justice: Are Americans Really Different Than Iraqis? May 30, 2008

Posted by Daniel Downs in civilization, deception, elections, freedom, liberals, morality, political campaigns, politics, religion, truth.
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American politicians need not visit Iraq to understand the problems faced by our troops. Here in our large urban cities people live under similar conditions and respond in similar ways. In “A Post Every American Should Read: Views from Iraq about the War,” I referred to Jeff Emanuel’s article on what our troops think about the war in Iraq. In his report, Emanuel mentioned the difficulty our troops have understanding revenge justice and politics. Just consider who led their country for many years. How could Iraqis know anything else? Only Americans socially isolated from their nation’s ghettos could not understand why Iraqi live by the rule of dishonesty and revenge. That is the trademark of dictators like Saddam Hussein, who gain their rule by assassinating their predecessors and, in Hussein’s case, their mentors.

In America, we have gangs who live by this same rule. In many American inner cities, the lives of police, social workers, and ministers are threatened everyday simply because they seek to help victims overcome a system of oppression and corruption. The war is not just with gangs but also with drug lords, gunrunners, pimps, addicts, and their followers. Yet, it is not only those public servants whose lives are threatened for seeking to liberate the victims of corrupt politics. During an interview with Ophrah, I heard Bill O’Reilly say he receives threats every day. Why? Because he stands for those principles and ideals that are now opposed by many followers of the Left.

So what is the difference between America and Iraq? Besides much larger land mass, a greater number of people with a much more diverse cultural background, the only difference is America’s long history of Christian ideals of freedom, law, and government. Those ideals not only are sources for the rule of law but also for the idea of relinquishing vengeance to higher authority–meaning God and government–for wrongs done. It is part of the idea of civilized society. Iraq, on the other hand, is a nation rooted in Islamic religion and its laws. Across the Middle East, revenge politics and revenge justice is law. The Qur’an encourages such behavior. More specifically, it is the doctrine of jihad guided by modern totalitarianism.

If my brief analysis is correct, how then has revenge justice developed in America? Look to the Left at home and to the Right overseas. American party politics is politics of revenge. That is what President George Washington warned our nation about in his Farewell Address. Mud slinging during election campaigns is what revenge politics is all about. Politicians lying through their teeth to get reelected is revenge politics at its worse. It shows why Freedom of Speech and of the Press is still necessary. Truth makes free not public policy and political elections by deception. The Left deceiving the public about Bush and the war in Iraq is revenge politics in all of its ugliness.

Like the Iraqis, Americans have lived under revenge politics for many generations. Some say it began during the Civil War era and others with the presidential campaign of Thomas Jefferson. The national divide was created with the rise of what Jonah Goldberg calls liberal fascism. Since the rise of the Left, liberal politicians have undermined moral laws so that their constituents could do their immoral thing. Unleashing legal constraints that helped to prevent wrong behavior only gave license to prejudice and unprincipled behavior. While liberal polity has made millions of dependents, their descendants have begun to act like people who cannot live in a free civil society. Under the liberal regime, people stopped learning how to live self-governing lives.

Independence may be a political idea useful for big government, but real personal independence is concept of the nostalgic past. The reason is morality learned by religion and supported by government is a thing of the distant past.

Today, liberal fascists label conservatives as fascists because followers of liberalism have learned to hate their pre-civil war era heritage and past. The ideological and party prejudice rules the day. Because it does, Americans have no better future than Iraqis. What prevents America from becoming like the Middle East is the remains of the influence of our constitutional history still evident in government structure and processes as well as in the crumbling remains of its socially and culturally induced mores.

Same Issues Facing Israel at the Beginning of Its 60th Year of Independence May 14, 2008

Posted by Daniel Downs in Arab states, Constitution, democracy, elections, Israel, Middle East, news, Palestinians, peace, politics, survey, United States.
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While Israel celebrates 60 years of Independence, political whirlwinds swirl across the nation. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will likely be indicted for corruption. While Foreign Minister Tipzni Livni is preparing to step into the PM position should Olmert leave office, Olmert continues to negotiate away Golan Heights, Samaria, Judea and Eastern Jerusalem with Palestinian leader Abbas and other anti-Zionists. As Olmert plans for peace talk with Hamas via Egyptain diplomats, Hamas continues bombing Sderot and Ashkelon.1

It is difficult to understand why PM Olmert continues his no-Palestinian compliance implementation of the Road Map to peace, but Prof. Paul Eidelberg, President of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy, gives us a clue. Prof. Eidelberg says multiculturalists liberals like PM Olmert have developed what he defines as demophrenia, which is a schizophrenic-like blindness to reality.2 The reality is ordinary Palestinians democratically elected Hamas to represent them. They want Hamas to maintain Islamic law and the pre-1948 anti-Zion position. The bombs exploding in Israel’s cities is glaring evidence that the Palestinians and their leaders have no real intentions of honoring the Road Map or any other treaty. (more…)

Ohio Senator Steve Austria’s Bid for US Congress Turns to Desperate Sliming Politics March 2, 2008

Posted by Daniel Downs in conservative, Democrats, elections, ethics, family, honesty, liberals, news, political campaigns, political primary, politics, Republicans.
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Who said dirty politics is reserved for lawyers and wannabe lawyers on Capitol Hill? Don’t be fooled it’s for those trying to get their too. Like his mentor, Steve Austria is mired in the muck of dirty tactics because he obviously fears Ron Hood may win.

In case you have not heard of Steve Austria or Ron Hood, these two politicians are running for the U.S. House of Representatives. Austria is the current Ohio Senate majority leader. He is a Beavercreek Ohio businessman not a lawyer like his mentor Dave Hobson, who is retiring from his career job on Capitol Hill. Remember those words. Hobson is a career politician who never wrote a law and he is Austria’s mentor.

Ron Hood also is a businessman and the son-in-law of Bill and Pam Dean. The Dean family is one of Xenia’s prominent entrepreneurs in the service sector. Hood served in the Ohio House of Representative from 1995-2000 and 2005-2006. Unlike Austria who is endorsed only by several party organizations, Hood is endorsed by a number of family associations like Family First, Moms for Ohio and Citizens for Community Values, by several gun owners associations, and by the Chamber of Commerce.

What inspired this post was a slick mailer I received yesterday from Austria. The sliming of Ron Hood advertisement says Hood voted with democrats 80% of the time. Austria’s glossy green with yellow letters oversize postcard accuses Hood of being a RINO, which means a Republican in name only. On the front and back, it says Ron Hood is a Democrat. The real interesting thing about Austria’s sliming tactic is found in the small print. That’s right, in small print Austria acknowledges his accusations are based only on 3 bills and not on Hood’s entire record. Out of the hundreds of bills Hood sponsored and the many more he voted on only House Bill 66, House Bill 23, and House Bill 160 are used as proof of Hood being an undercover liberal. I checked the huge budget bill House Bill 66. I found conservatives Dewine and Widener voting with the Democrats on a lot of legislative items too. Does that make them liberals too? (more…)